How to buy a Mac

Apple updates their computers every nine to fifteen months or so. If you buy at the beginning of the “product cycle,” you usually get really good bang for their buck: fast components for reasonably prices. Toward the end of the product cycle, deals aren’t as good.

People often ask for advice about whether they should buy that MacBook or iMac; this is especially common on the Ars Technica Mac Board, and I’ve realized that there’s a relatively simply algorithm to determine whether you should buy now or wait. One person, “masonk,” made this handy flow chart, which is explained in words below:

The standard advice:

If you don’t have a working, usable computer and need one, buy it.

Check the Mac Rumor’s Buyers Guide. Has the computer been updated within the last six months? If so, buy it: an upgrade in the near future is unlikely.

If not, are we within six weeks of the World Wide Developer Conference, MacWorld (or whatever January event might replace it), or a “special media event?” Can you wait the six weeks—that is, do you have a computer that’s still usable? If so, wait, as there’s a good chance of product updates.

If we’re not within six weeks of a major event, buy it anyway, as you don’t know when an update might appear.

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